Students and adults instructed by accomplished authors during a two-week workshop By Diane Dorney
For two weeks in May, Seaside is home base for two professional writers participating in a series of events for the first Seaside Writers Conference. Conceived by Seacoast Collegiate High School principal Jonathan D’Avignon, the goal for this conference is to reach out to local students at both the middle and high school level and the general public by offering instruction with a heavy emphasis on the process of writing during a concentrated time period. “Writing has seen a decline in importance through the myriad of state testing,” D’Avignon said. “I wanted to bring a new sense of urgency back to writing.”
With that mission in mind, D’Avignon reached out to former Florida State University college friends and accomplished writers Dr. Matt Bondruant and Dr. Seth Brady Tucker to see if they would be interested in assisting him with this idea. They jumped at the opportunity. “I have wanted to spearhead a retreat like this for many years,” said Tucker. “And I believe that the fact that this experience is going to be developed and deployed by writers is going to give the conference a distinct literary flavor.”
Sessions with the Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School students will be held during the first week of the authors’ stay, which begins May 12. Students have been working on historical fiction writing and AP language and composition in the high school and poetry and essay writing in the middle school. Bondurant and Tucker will offer critical feedback to the students on their work and assist them in developing their writing skills. “Our main concern was how to build an experience that was both educational for local kids,” Tucker said, “as well as valuable for local and national writers who might want to participate.”
To address the other half of the organizers’ goals, the second week will be devoted to offering ticketed events on various topics to the general public (see schedule below). Courses will focus on teaching craft skills, strategies and tricks of the trade used by the instructors and other writers to develop accomplished pieces of work. The last two days will feature a two-day, four-session workshop targeting the more experienced writer. Feedback from both authors will be given on works in progress along with helpful techniques to deal with getting over problematic areas.
A sunset reception for the authors will be held Monday, May 12, and a movie screening of “Lawless,” which was based on the international best selling book, “The Wettest County in the World,” written by Bondurant, will take place May 16, followed by a reception and Q&A session with the author.
Tucker believes the act of reading and writing teaches us how to be better people and that this particular conference can truly benefit the local community in more ways that one. “Poetry and fiction writing can make us more empathetic,” he said. “And if there is anything this world needs right now, it is empathy.”
The Seaside Writers Conference is sponsored by Seascoast Collegiate High School, Seaside Neighborhood School, The Seaside Institute and Sundog Books.
Please contact Jonathan D’Avignon with questions or for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets for the general public events can be purchased online at http://seasidewritersconference.weebly.com.
Diane Dorney is the executive director of the Seaside Institute.
About the Event:
The Seaside Writers Conference is a program in which professional writers interact with the public and students at the Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School for a two-week period through intensive writing workshops, one-day seminars, school outreach programs and social events. This event raises awareness about the art of creative writing.
About the Writers/Instructors:
Matt Bondurant’s newest novel The Night Swimmer (Scribner) was published in 2012. He is currently adapting the graphic novel Strange Attractors into a feature film for Russell Ackerman, John Fairchild and Fox Pictures.
Seth Brady Tucker is a poet and fiction writer, best known for his poetry manuscript Mormon Boy. In 2011, Tucker won the Elixir Press Editor’s Prize.